Syquia Mansion of President Elpidio Quirino
Vigan is the proud birthplace of the Philippines’ sixth president, Elpidio Quirino. President Quirino is best remembered as the chief author of economic developments undertaken by the country that helped it rise from the devastation of World War II, as well as the country’s foreign policy direction during that time.
Having the Bigueno trait of independent-thinking, President Qurino became the target of CIA propaganda that made him lose his 1953 presidential bid against Ramon Magsaysay, who headed the National Defense Department under his administration. It was President Quirino’s penalty for his support of the withdrawal of the American bases whose stay in the country was up for review. The Syquia Mansion which houses President Qurino’s extensive memorabilia is actually owned by his
wife, Dona Alicia Quirino. Her ancestor was a Chinese who made his fortune in the robust trading in Vigan. Sy Kia’s pride in his Asian heritage can be seen by visitors to the Syquia mansion where they can view a portrait of him with his braided long hair and traditional Chinese robes. His descendants adopted the hispanized Syquia surname later on. The first lady’s grand ancestral home was where some of the President’s functions were held during his administration so it is not only worth a visit for the presidential memorabilia but also for the feel of the magnificent and historical gatherings that have taken place amongst the elegant furnishings.
To find the Syquia Mansion, visitors may walk through Crisologo Street towards Gordion Inn or the Kingdom Hall of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the two-storey, blue and cream-painted mansion will be in the corner of Quirino Boulevard. Inside the Syquia Mansion one will marvel at the huge rooms filled with not only Philippine antiques but also those from countries all over the world. There are huge oil portraits of the family, with three identified as being done by national artist Fernando Amorsolo. There is even a huge replica of Juan Luna’s Spolarium, which was painted by the national hero and painter’s assistant. The house is still used by members of the Quirino family, so visitors will see modern implements in the dinning room and kitchen together with the exquisite antique chinaware on display.
Visitors should also not pass up on the opportunity to look through the peeping holes found in the master’s bedroom and the second floor which are used to view visitors in the receiving area before they are allowed to enter the grand living room. A caretaker of the Syquia family is always around when the mansion is open to accompany visitors. Visitors can get important details from them, even information on secret doors! The Syquia Mansion tour is free, but a donation may be given to the caretaker.